Facebook Case Study: Which Event to Optimize for?

Published: 6 January 2023

Updated: 29 January 2024

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Alina is a digital marketing specialist @Viden, focused on encouraging growth and delivering results for brands across paid channels through leading optimization and management strategies.
Facebook Case Study: Which Event to Optimize for?

When it comes to running a successful ad campaign on Facebook, picking the right conversion event is key. As an advertiser, you need to be able to measure the success of your campaigns and optimize them accordingly. But with so many different types of conversions available, how do you know which one to choose? In this short case study, we’d like to share our experience in FB conversion campaigns and which event is better to optimize for, especially for eCommerce businesses.

In many cases, there is no way for FB campaigns to exit the learning phase, and they receive the status “Learning limited.” It is not a failure; it’s just an indication that your budget isn’t being spent effectively because the ad delivery system can’t optimize performance with your current setup.

And one of the FB recommendations is to change your optimization event that occurs more frequently. For example, move from Purchases to Add-to-cart.

It sounds reasonable, as the Add-to-cart event drives more conversions and helps exit the learning phase. The FB system will have all the needed signals to optimize the performance and deliver our ads to the right audience.

Purchase and Add-to-cart in FB

We tested this approach in two countries (the US and Australia) and received insightful results.

We were running two identical ad sets with the same audience, settings, spending, and ads; there was only one difference between them – optimization event. One ad set was optimized for Purchases, and another used Add-to-cart optimization.

Here are the results in Australia:

    1. ATC ad set has higher CTR (+50%)

    1. The number of ATCs events is relatively similar in both ad sets (despite the different optimization events!)

    1. ATC ad set had 0 purchases, while another ad set delivered more than $6K in revenue and 4 purchases.

The US account showed the following:

    1. ATC ad set had a bit higher CTR, but nothing insane

    1. ATC ad set drove much more add-to-carts compared to the Purchase ad set (+180%)

    1. ATC ad set had 2X lower revenue, purchases, and ROAS than the ad set with Purchase optimization

Further Reading: Facebook Ads: How to Increase Conversion Rate?


The Add-to-cart action is just one-two steps from the Purchase, which means that both these audiences are at the bottom of the funnel, and users are expected to purchase (at least some % of them) after adding products to the cart.

However, our tests showed that the performance of such similar events is absolutely different. And if you aim to get more revenue, more product purchase, and, as a result, higher ROAS, it isn’t worth optimizing for intermediate events, even with the Active delivery phase.

It is important to understand that the FB system gets us what we “say” to it. Optimizing for Add-to-carts will drive more Add-to-carts, which will not likely increase your sales and revenue.

Hopefully, this example will give you some clarity. And if you still need some extra help, we are here to help you. Get in touch with our experts now to book a free consultation.

Visit the case studies page to learn more about our experience and successful projects.

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